PLATFORMS: PC Windows 3.1, 95 and NT.
BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts, Analog Devices is a leading provider of precision, high-performance integrated circuits used in analog and digital signal processing applications.
PROBLEM SOLVED: With thousands of products, Analog Devices was printing a series of catalogs and data sheets up to two feet thick. The cost of printing and shipping catalogs to 150,000 customers worldwide could reach up to $3 million per year. For the past ten years, Analog Devices had tried, like its competitors, to develop a satisfactory parametric search engine that would help the pre-sales people. Finding the right product to satisfy the customer's needs was not an easy job, even for a well-trained engineer.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The KATE Software Suite offers a proven methodology for building decision support systems. KATE includes several tools. The parametric search system of Analog Devices was developed by Interactive Multimedia Systems using the "nearest neighbor matching" technology of KATE-CBR. This tool uses CASE-based reasoning (CBR) to retrieve cases that are similar but not necessarily identical to the current problem. KATE-Runtime is used to deploy applications and KATE-WebServer allows access over the Internet. The KATE Software Suite also includes KATE-Editor for building the CASE database, KATE-CallTracking for tracking in call centers and KATE-for R/3 Service Management, a module integrated with the SAP call tracking tool. KATE-DataMining uses induction technology to automatically generate decision trees. Easy to use, KATE-DataMining obtains feedback from experience contained in corporate databases.
STRENGTHS: Half a dozen projects using a parametric search engine combined with a standard database management system had been developed by Analog Devices. But this approach was not very helpful since SQL-style searches only return a value when all conditions are exactly met. Analog Devices tried KATE and, in less than a year, they had a unique and successful pre-sales tool. Analog Devices is expecting a $2 million saving this year, since the cost of producing and shipping 120,000 CD-ROMs is far less expensive than the paper version. But, moreover, it is the quality of the service provided by the parametric search system that makes the difference in this very competitive market
WEAKNESSES: Lack of UNIX version but this will be solved with KATE 6.0.
SELECTION CRITERIA: KATE was selected because it has the ability to provide a solution to problems that Analog Devices had tried to solve for years.
DELIVERABLES: Now the customer enters its specifications directly on the screen. Values can be numbers or information such as "the best," "sort of" or "less than." The parametric search system will always provide an answer, a list of the top ten Analog Devices' products that are closest to meeting the specified requirements, sorted in order of bestmatch. The parametric search is now available to customers on a CD-ROM catalog. It is also used by the pre-sales engineers on their intranet and will be soon accessible through the Internet, as part of the Analog Devices' Web site.
VENDOR SUPPORT: AcknoSoft provides technical support, by e-mail, fax and telephone hot line.
DOCUMENTATION: KATE is delivered with a hard-copy user manual and on-line documentation for the libraries.
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